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OA Calls for Improved Access to Eye Care PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 02 March 2015

Optometry Australia (OA), the peak professional body for the optometry sector, has called on the Federal Government to increase investment in Medicare funded optometry to make access to optometry fair for all Australians.

In its Submission to the Federal Budget 2015-2016: Making eye care accessible for all Australians, the organisation, which represents 90% of optometrists, calls for action to remove barriers currently being faced by vulnerable members of the community who may be deterred from seeking critical eye checks following the Government’s reduction to the patient rebate for optometric care.

Optometry Australia urges the Australian Government to immediately implement:

  • Exemptions from the Medicare rebate cut for optometric consultations for pensioners, concession card holders, children and aged-care residents; and
  • Annual and fair indexation of optometry items on the Medicare Schedule.

It is also calling on the Government to prioritise solutions to overcome long-standing access issues for Australians living in rural or remote areas, in aged care, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

According to an Access Economics for Vision 2020 report (2009), the total economic cost of vision loss in Australia is estimated to be $16.6bn – this is up $6.8bn from when this study was last undertaken in 2004. This represents an average growth in the cost of vision loss of $1.36bn a year.

RANZCO Warns For Medical Tourism PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 26 February 2015

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO), Australia and New Zealand's peak body for eye care, warns of the dangers of seeking "cheap" or convenient eye operations overseas.

The growing popularity of seeking medical services overseas – or "medical tourism" – raises serious questions around safety standards, patient care, legal recourse and insurance. Some countries promote "package" experiences to lure consumers, such as resort holidays combined with "discounted" medical or cosmetic procedures – sometimes done pool-side. Studies have shown there were more than 10 million medical tourists in 2014 creating an industry worth over $50 billion. Yearly, it is estimated about 25,000 Australians leave the country for cosmetic services.

In eye care, laser and cataract surgery are two of the most commonly-performed operations. They are now being marketed to consumers across the globe as "affordable" health services compared to that available in their own country. Previously the domain of mostly cosmetic procedures, medical tourism has now expanded into more complex surgeries. However, basing a medical decision on cost alone neglects the complexity of diagnosis, treatment, and post-operative care for many eye conditions and diseases.

Laser eye operations, for example, require specific steps pre and post-surgery, including a discussion of the procedure itself and how to recover afterwards. A small percentage of people have unusually thin or irregular corneas and do not qualify for laser surgery at all. The laser eye model varies from country to country, making it difficult for a patient to confirm quality and consistency.

Scarring and contracting antibiotic-resistant infections are just some of the dangers from having surgery performed overseas. If there is clinical negligence, legal recourse may be difficult when dealing with medical professionals and facilities in another country. Additionally, those without private health insurance may be exposed to very expensive bills if an adverse situation occurs.

RBA Announces Banknotes with Additional Feature for the Vision Impaired PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 20 February 2015

Current BanknotesThe RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) has announced that the next generation of Australian banknotes will include a 'tactile' feature to assist people with a vision impairment. Existing features to help the vision impaired tell the difference between different denominations of Australian banknotes will be maintained on the new series. These include: bright colours; large and bold numbers; and different sizes for each denomination of banknote. The Bank will also continue to fund the production of the 'cash test card'. The addition of a 'tactile' feature will further assist people with a vision impairment to tell the difference between denominations.

This decision is the culmination of extensive research by the Bank into whether an effective and durable tactile marking could be included on Australian banknotes. This included consultation with the vision impaired community, other stakeholders and overseas central banks.

The testing and trialling process for the next generation of banknotes is ongoing and designs have not yet been finalised. Details about the new designs, the release dates and how they will be issued will be released in a timely way, so that the public can be confident they understand how to recognise and use the new banknotes.

A recent Vision Australia survey found that almost half of totally blind respondents feel they are being short changed on occasion. The same survey found 61% of respondents with severe to total blindness had trouble differentiating between banknotes.

AHPRA To Introduce Hair Testing for All Practitioners with Substance Related Impairment PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Mandatory hair testing will be routine for all registered health practitioners with substance-related impairment, under a screening protocol to be introduced by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards. Under the protocol, all health practitioners who have restrictions on their registration linked to past substance abuse will have routine hair testing in addition to urine testing. Routine hair testing helps provide comprehensive information about the use – over time - of a wide range of drugs (not just based on the practitioner's drug taking history).

AHPRA CEO, Martin Fletcher, said the protocol provided a clear framework across professions for AHPRA's advice to National Boards about the management of registered practitioners with drug related impairment.

National Boards will continue to make decisions about individual practitioners with impairment case by case, based on testing standards set out in the protocol. This includes:

  • nationally consistent threshold limits, so all pathology providers conducting the tests use consistent testing baselines (e.g. will report all positive alcohol readings over 30pg/mg in hair)
  • agreed ‘critical events’ – in addition to positive test results - requiring action and follow up (e.g. unexplained delayed screening tests or results, failure to attend screening, diluted or unsuitable samples etc)
  • agreed triggers for National Boards to consider disciplinary action (e.g. positive test results, non-compliance with screening requirements etc)

AHPRA has established an expert panel to provide ongoing advice on the biological assessment, testing and monitoring of applicants and registrants with drug and/or alcohol misuse, including impairment. The panel includes Professor Olaf Drummer, Professor Jenny Martin and Dr Robert Ali.

OPSM Urging Parents to Protect Children's Eyes PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 12 February 2015

Children SunglassesAustralian optical retailer OPSM is urging parents to protect their children's eyes now by adhering to the sun smart message, slip, slop, slap and slide.

According to OPSM Senior Optometrist, Peter Murphy, "Eyes need to be cared for just as much as our skin. UV damage is cumulative and irreversible so it is important to protect children’s eyes as early as possible because sun-related eye damage occurs in the early ages of childhood, particularly between the ages of three and twelve."

OPSM has bolstered the range of children's sunglasses available across all stores nationally. Stewart Walton, Senior Director of Buying said, "Kids sunglasses are the must have fashion accessory for your child this summer being the perfect item where fashion meets function. The biggest brand this summer is definitely Ray-Ban with the classic Wayfarers and Aviators available in kid's sizing priced from $59.95."

"We are increasingly seeing designer brands creating kids collections and this is the same in eyewear. Last year our top selling children's sunglasses was a classic silver mirrored Ray-Ban aviator that shows that adult fashion is translating into kids ready to wear," Walton concluded.

Murphy adds, "Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world, it's important parents teach their children how to enjoy fun in the sun safely and protect their eyes as early as possible. It just takes a few simple precautions to help reduce a child's chance of developing eye problems such as macular degeneration and cancer of the eyelids later in life."

Peter Murphy provides his tips for parents to keep their kids eyes protected from UV damage this summer:

  • Make sure sunglasses block 100% of UVA and UVB rays
  • Choose sunglasses that fit your child’s face well
  • Look out for sunglasses that are large enough to shield the eyes from most angles
  • Add a wide-brimmed hat to help reduce the amount of UV radiation that reaches their eyes
  • Don't be fooled by a cloudy day; the sun's rays can pass through haze and clouds so stay protected
"Bring Your Eyes to Life" Consumer Advertising Campaign Launched PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 05 February 2015

Optrex ActiMistOptrex ActiMist has kicked off a new $6 million dollar consumer advertising campaign designed to encourage Australians to actively care for their eyes, highlighting how modern lifestyles contribute to eye irritation and discomfort. The Bring Your Eyes to Life campaign is currently running across various media channels including commercial TV, trade, digital and social and in-store.

Pim Bolyn, Optrex ActiMist Brand Manager at RB said the multi-million dollar consumer campaign presents a great opportunity for health care professionals such as pharmacists and pharmacy assistants to proactively educate customers on eye care and drive retail sales.

"The Optrex ActiMistTM 'Bring Eyes to Life' campaign is designed to make eye care top of mind for all Australians and demonstrate why adopting a healthy eye care routine is so important in our busy lifestyles in order to keep them feeling fresh, comfortable and at their best," said Mr Bolyn.

"With the launch of this campaign, pharmacies can expect current or potential customers coming into store asking about Optrex ActiMist, how it works and its benefits."

Applied to closed eyes, Optrex ActiMist is a liposomal spray that offers pharmacy staff the opportunity to provide patients with a convenient, easy to use treatment for quick relief. Optrex ActMist is suitable for extended or episode use, for contact lens wearers and for use over makeup (as it won’t smudge).

Optometry practices wishing to place orders for Optrex ActiMist product, collateral and/or samples, can call 02 9371 8884 or use the self-service online portal at

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